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On the Affordable Care Act (Obama Care/Health Care Act)
In March 2010, President Obama signed comprehensive health reform, the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (ACA), into law. The law makes preventive care—including family planning and related services—more accessible and affordable for many Americans. While some provisions of the law have already taken effect, many more provisions will be implemented in the coming years.
Transcript of Sen. Ted Cruz’s Filibuster
A little about Senator Ted Cruz
Information on who will be affected by the furloughs.
Information on the freedom of information act.
According to the government website : The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a law that gives you the right to access information from the federal government. It is often described as the law that keeps citizens in the know about their government.
What is FOIA?
Enacted on July 4, 1966, and taking effect one year later, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) provides that any person has a right, enforceable in court, to obtain access to federal agency records, except to the extent that such records (or portions of them) are protected from public disclosure by one of nine exemptions or by one of three special law enforcement record exclusions. A FOIA request can be made for any agency record. Before sending a request to a federal agency, you should determine which agency is likely to have the records you are seeking. Each agency’s website will contain information about the type of records that agency maintains.
according to wikipedia; The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a federal freedom of information law that allows for the full or partial disclosure of previously unreleased information and documents controlled by the United States government. The Act defines agency records subject to disclosure, outlines mandatory disclosure procedures and grants nine exemptions to the statute. It was originally signed into law by President Lyndon B. Johnson, despite his misgivings, on July 4, 1966 as 5 U.S.C. § 552 and went into effect the following year.
The Federal Government’s Freedom of Information Act should not be confused with the different and varying Freedom of Information Acts passed by the individual states. Many of those state acts may be similar but not identical to the federal act.
Amendments to the Freedom of information act according to wikipedia ; OPEN Government Act of 2007
President Bush signed the Openness Promotes Effectiveness in our National Government Act of 2007, Pub.L. 110–175, on December 31, 2007. This law, also known as the “OPEN Government Act of 2007″, amended the federal FOIA statute in several ways. According to a White House press release, it does so by:
establishing a definition of “a representative of the news media;”
directing that required attorney fees be paid from an agency’s own appropriation rather than from the Judgment Fund;
prohibiting an agency from assessing certain fees if it fails to comply with FOIA deadlines; and
establishing an Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) in the National Archives and Records Administration to review agency compliance with FOIA.
Changes include the following:
it recognizes electronic media specifically and defines “News Media” as “any person or entity that gathers information of potential interest to a segment of the public, uses its editorial skills to turn the raw materials into a distinct work, and distributes that work to an audience.”
it extends the 20 day deadline by allowing for up to 10 days between the FOIA office of the agency and the component of the agency holding the records and specifically allows for clarification of requests by the FOIA office (Effective 12/31/2007).
it calls for each agency to designate a FOIA Public Liaison, “who shall assist in the resolution of any disputes” (Effective 12/31/2008).
it requires agencies to assign tracking numbers to FOIA requests that take longer than 10 days, and to provide systems determining the status of a request.
it codifies and defines annual reporting requirements for each agency’s FOIA program.
it specifically addresses data sources used to generate reports; “shall make the raw statistical data used in its reports available electronically…”
it redefines the definition of an agency “record” to include information held for an agency by a government contractor.
it establishes an Office of Government Information Services (OGIS) which will offer mediation services to resolve disputes as non-exclusive alternative to litigation.
it requires agencies to make recommendations personnel matters related to FOIA such as whether FOIA performance should be used as a merit factor.
it requires agencies to specify the specific exemption for each deletion or reduction in disclosed documents.
2009 Executive Order permitting retroactive classification
On December 29, 2009, President Barack Obama issued Executive Order 13526, which allows the government to classify certain specific types of information relevant to national security after it has been requested.That is, a request for information that meets the criteria for availability under FOIA can still be denied if the government determines that the information should have been classified, and unavailable. It also sets a timeline for automatic declassification of old information that is not specifically identified as requiring continued secrecy.
Article from the verge sighted as reference; http://www.theverge.com/2013/9/17/4741292/broken-pentagon-fax-machine-rejecting-foia-requests-media
The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is supposed to guarantee that the press gets access to public records within a timely fashion, and has been instrumental in gathering documents related to the recent National Security Agency revelations. But the existence of the Act isn’t enough to make reporters’ lives easy.
Until recently, the most efficient method for making FOIA requests to the Office of the Secretary of Defense (OSD) was via fax. It was speedy and reliable, unlike snail mail and the registration-required web portal. About two weeks ago, MuckRock reports, the fax machine stopped working and won’t be back up any time soon. “We would hope that it is back up sometime in October, but could extend into November,” a spokesman said.
The OSD handles records related to the Secretary of Defense and Joint Staff, and does not process requests for the entire Department of Defense. Even so, it’s still managed to build up a substantial backlog of FOIA requests: more than 1,000 awaiting processing. Perhaps the broken fax machine will help.
MEMORANDUM FOR THE HEADS OF EXECUTIVE DEPARTMENTS AND AGENCIES
SUBJECT: Freedom of Information Act
A democracy requires accountability, and accountability requires transparency. As Justice Louis Brandeis wrote, “sunlight is said to be the best of disinfectants.” In our democracy, the Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), which encourages accountability through transparency, is the most prominent expression of a profound national commitment to ensuring an open Government. At the heart of that commitment is the idea that accountability is in the interest of the Government and the citizenry alike.
The Freedom of Information Act should be administered with a clear presumption: In the face of doubt, openness prevails. The Government should not keep information confidential merely because public officials might be embarrassed by disclosure, because errors and failures might be revealed, or because of speculative or abstract fears. Nondisclosure should never be based on an effort to protect the personal interests of Government officials at the expense of those they are supposed to serve. In responding to requests under the FOIA, executive branch agencies (agencies) should act promptly and in a spirit of cooperation, recognizing that such agencies are servants of the public.
All agencies should adopt a presumption in favor of disclosure, in order to renew their commitment to the principles embodied in FOIA, and to usher in a new era of open Government. The presumption of disclosure should be applied to all decisions involving FOIA.
The presumption of disclosure also means that agencies should take affirmative steps to make information public. They should not wait for specific requests from the public. All agencies should use modern technology to inform citizens about what is known and done by their Government. Disclosure should be timely.
I direct the Attorney General to issue new guidelines governing the FOIA to the heads of executive departments and agencies, reaffirming the commitment to accountability and transparency, and to publish such guidelines in the Federal Register. In doing so, the Attorney General should review FOIA reports produced by the agencies under Executive Order 13392 of December 14, 2005. I also direct the Director of the Office of Management and Budget to update guidance to the agencies to increase and improve information dissemination to the public, including through the use of new technologies, and to publish such guidance in the Federal Register.
This memorandum does not create any right or benefit, substantive or procedural, enforceable at law or in equity by any party against the United States, its departments, agencies, or entities, its officers, employees, or agents, or any other person.
The Director of the Office of Management and Budget is hereby authorized and directed to publish this memorandum in the Federal Register.
BARACK OBAMA on the freedom of information act as copied from:
THE MEASURE I sign today, S. 1160, revises section 3 of the Administrative Procedure Act to provide guidelines for the public availability of the records of Federal departments and agencies.
How Occupy Wall Street Defines themselves on their website OccupyWallSt.org:
Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to fight back against the richest 1% of people that are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.
U.S. Relations With North Korea
transcribed from : http://www.state.gov/r/pa/ei/bgn/2792.htm
BUREAU OF EAST ASIAN AND PACIFIC AFFAIRS
December 17, 2012
More information about North Korea is available on the North Korea Page and from other Department of State publications and other sources listed at the end of this fact sheet.
U.S.-NORTH KOREA RELATIONS
The United States and Korea’s Joseon Dynasty established diplomatic relations under the 1882 Treaty of Peace, Amity, Commerce, and Navigation, and the first U.S. diplomatic envoy arrived in Korea in 1883. U.S.-Korea relations continued until 1905, when Japan assumed direction over Korean foreign affairs. In 1910, Japan began a 35-year period of colonial rule over Korea. Following Japan’s surrender in 1945, at the end of World War II, the Korean Peninsula was divided at the 38th parallel into two occupation zones, with the United States in the South and the Soviet Union in the North. Initial hopes for a unified, independent Korea were not realized, and in 1948 two separate nations were established — the Republic of Korea (ROK) in the South, and the Democratic People’s Republic of Korea (DPRK) in the North.
On June 25, 1950, North Korean forces invaded South Korea. Led by the United States, a United Nations coalition of 16 countries undertook the defense of South Korea. Following China’s entry into the war on behalf of North Korea later that year, a stalemate ensued for the final two years of the conflict until an armistice was concluded on July 27, 1953. A peace treaty has never been signed. North and South Korea have had a difficult and, at times, bitter relationship since the Korean War. The two countries are separated by a demilitarized zone. During the postwar period, both Korean governments have repeatedly affirmed their desire to reunify the Korean Peninsula, but until 1971 the two governments had no direct, official communications or other contact. North Korea has been ruled by successive generations of Kim Il Sung’s family, and its political and economic structure is centrally controlled.
The United States supports the peaceful reunification of Korea on terms acceptable to the Korean people and recognizes that the future of the Korean Peninsula is primarily a matter for them to decide. The United States believes that a constructive and serious dialogue between North and South Korea is necessary to resolve outstanding problems, including the North’s attempts to develop a nuclear program and human rights abuses, and to encourage the North’s integration with the rest of the international community.
In 1994, the United States and North Korea reached agreement on a roadmap for the denuclearization of the Korean Peninsula. In 2003, the United States proposed multilateral talks on the North Korean nuclear issue. Several rounds ofSix-Party Talks have been held since then. Although North Korea has at times said it will take steps toward denuclearization, some of its subsequent actions, such as missile launches, have conflicted with those assertions. The United States has called on North Korea to take concrete, irreversible denuclearization steps toward fulfillment of the 2005 Joint Statement of the Six-Party Talks, comply with international law including United Nations Security Council Resolutions 1718 and 1874, cease provocative behaviors, and take steps to improve relations with its neighbors.
U.S. Assistance to North Korea
Most forms of U.S. economic assistance, other than purely humanitarian assistance, are prohibited. North Korea has at times experienced periods of famine, and the United States has provided food aid. The United States has also assisted U.S. NGOs in providing aid to fight the outbreak of infectious diseases and to improve the supply of electricity at provincial hospitals in North Korea.
Bilateral Economic Relations
The United States imposed a near total economic embargo on North Korea in 1950 when North Korea attacked the South. Over the following years, some U.S. sanctions were eased, but others were imposed. U.S. economic interaction with North Korea remains minimal.
North Korea’s Membership in International Organizations
North Korea and the United States belong to some of the same international organizations, including the United Nations and the Association of Southeast Asian Nations (ASEAN) Regional Forum.
The United States and North Korea do not have diplomatic relations. The Swedish Embassy in North Korea is the U.S. protecting power and provides limited consular services to U.S. citizens. The U.S. Special Representative for North Korea Policy is Glyn Davies.
North Korea has no embassy in Washington, DC, but it is represented in the United States through its mission to the United Nations.
More information about North Korea is available from the Department of State and other sources, some of which are listed here:
for more on North Korea’s “recent” rocket program and capabilities look here;
Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission, 558 U.S. 310 (2010), was a landmark United States Supreme Court case in which the Court held that the First Amendment prohibited the government from restricting independent political expenditures by corporations and unions. The nonprofit group Citizens United wanted to air a film critical of Hillary Clinton and to advertise the film during television broadcasts in apparent violation of the 2002 Bipartisan Campaign Reform Act (commonly known as the McCain-Feingold Act or “BCRA”). In a 5-4 decision, the Court held that portions of BCRA §203 violated the First Amendment.
The decision reached the Supreme Court on appeal from a July 2008 decision by the United States District Court for the District of Columbia. Section 203 of BCRA defined an “electioneering communication” as a broadcast, cable, or satellite communication that mentioned a candidate within 60 days of a general election or 30 days of a primary, and prohibited such expenditures by corporations and unions. The lower court held that §203 of BCRA applied and prohibited Citizens United from advertising the film Hillary: The Movie in broadcasts or paying to have it shown on television within 30 days of the 2008 Democratic primaries. The Supreme Court reversed, striking down those provisions of BCRA that prohibited corporations (including nonprofit corporations) and unions from spending on “electioneering communications”.
The decision overruled Austin v. Michigan Chamber of Commerce (1990) and partially overruled McConnell v. Federal Election Commission (2003). The Court, however, upheld requirements for public disclosure by sponsors of advertisements (BCRA §201 and §311). The case did not involve the federal ban on direct contributions from corporations or unions to candidate campaigns or political parties, which remain illegal in races for federal office.
*For more relevant information please visit, http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
The fatal shooting of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman took place on the night of February 26, 2012, in Sanford, Florida, United States. Martin was an unarmed 17-year-old African American. George Zimmerman, a 28-year-old multi-racial Hispanic American,[Note 1] was the appointed neighborhood watch coordinator for the gated community where Martin was temporarily staying and where the shooting took place.
While in his vehicle on a personal errand, Zimmerman noticed Martin walking inside the community. Zimmerman called the Sanford Police Department to report Martin’s behavior as suspicious, stating that Martin was “cutting in-between houses…walking very leisurely for the [rainy] weather” and “looking at all the houses”. According to a police report, “there is no indication that Trayvon Martin was involved in any criminal activity at the time of the encounter”. While still on the phone with the police dispatcher, Zimmerman left his vehicle. After the phone call concluded, there was a violent encounter between Martin and Zimmerman. The encounter ended with Zimmerman fatally shooting Martin once in the chest at close range.
When police arrived on the scene, Zimmerman told them that Martin had attacked him and that he had shot Martin in self-defense.Zimmerman was bleeding from the nose and from two vertical lacerations on the back of his head. EMTs treated Zimmerman at the scene, after which he was taken to the Sanford Police Department. Zimmerman was detained and questioned for approximately five hours. He was then released without being charged; at the time, police said they found no evidence to contradict Zimmerman’s claim of self-defense.
The circumstances of Martin’s death, the initial decision not to charge Zimmerman, and questions about Florida’s “Stand Your Ground” law received national and international attention. Allegations of racist motivation for both the shooting and police conduct, along with intense media reporting that was sometimes inaccurate, contributed to public demands for Zimmerman’s arrest. On March 22, 2012, a Special Prosecutor was appointed to take over the investigation.
On April 11, 2012, the Special Prosecutor filed a charge of murder in the second degree against Zimmerman, who then turned himself in and was placed in custody. According to the prosecution’s Affidavit of Probable Cause, “Zimmerman confronted Martin and a struggle ensued.” A prosecution investigator who co-signed the affidavit later testified at a hearing that he did not know whether it was Zimmerman or Martin who started the confrontation. Zimmerman pleaded not guilty to the charge and is currently out on a $1 million bond while he awaits trial; he has requested a hearing under the “stand your ground” law provisions.
In October 2012, Judge Debra S. Nelson set Zimmerman’s trial date for June 10, 2013. She also ruled that any “stand your ground” hearing must be held by April 26, 2013
*For more information on the Trayvon Martin case, please visit http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/
also see our media section.
Grover Glenn Norquist (born October 19, 1956) is a conservative libertarian, and founder and president of Americans for Tax Reform. He is known as the promoter of the “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”, which prior to the November 2012 election was signed by 95% of all Republican Members of Congress and all but one of the candidates running for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination, to oppose increases in marginal income tax rates for individuals and businesses, as well as net reductions or eliminations of deductions and credits without a matching reduced tax rate. He is a member of the Republican Party.
About the Taxpayer Protection pledge
Prior to the November 2012 election, 238 of 242 House Republicans and 41 out of 47 Senate Republicans had signed ATR’s “Taxpayer Protection Pledge”, in which the pledger promises to “oppose any and all efforts to increase the marginal income tax rate for individuals and business; and to oppose any net reduction or elimination of deductions and credits, unless matched dollar for dollar by further reducing tax rates.”
The November 6, 2012 elections resulted in a decline in the number of Taxpayer Protection Pledge signatories in both the upper and lower houses of the 113th Congress: from 41 to 39 in the Senate, and from 238 to “fewer than … 218″ in the House of Representatives. According to journalist Alex Seitz-Wald, losses in the election by Norquist supporters and the “fiscal cliff” have emboldened and made more vocal critics of Norquist.
In November 2011, Senate Majority leader Harry Reid (D-NV) blamed Norquist’s influence for the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction’s lack of progress, claiming that Congressional Republicans “are being led like puppets by Grover Norquist. They’re giving speeches that we should compromise on our deficit, but never do they compromise on Grover Norquist. He is their leader.” Since Norquist’s pledge binds signatories to opposing deficit reduction agreements that include any element of increased tax revenue, some Republican deficit hawks now retired from office have stated that Norquist has become an obstacle to deficit reduction. Former Republican Senator Alan Simpson (R-WY), co-chairman of the National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform, has been particularly critical, describing Norquist’s position as “no taxes, under any situation, even if your country goes to hell.
*For more information on either Grover Norquist or the pledge please visit.
Joseph Robinette “Joe” Biden, Jr. (pronunciation: /ˈdʒoʊsɨf rɒbɨˈnɛt ˈbaɪdən/; born November 20, 1942) is the 47th and current Vice President of the United States, jointly elected with President Barack Obama. He is a member of the Democratic Party and was a United States Senator from Delaware from January 3, 1973 until his resignation on January 15, 2009, following his election to the Vice Presidency. In 2012, Biden was elected to a second term alongside Obama.
Biden was born in Scranton, Pennsylvania, and lived there for ten years before moving to Delaware. He became an attorney in 1969, and was elected to the New Castle County council in 1970. Biden was first elected to the Senate in 1972 and became the sixth-youngest senator in U.S. history. He was re-elected to the Senate six times, was the fourth most senior senator at the time of his resignation, and is the 15th-longest serving Senator in history. Biden was a long-time member and former chairman of the Foreign Relations Committee. His strong advocacy helped bring about U.S. military assistance and intervention during the Bosnian War. He opposed the Gulf War in 1991. He voted in favor of the Iraq War Resolution in 2002, but later proposed resolutions to alter U.S. strategy there. He has also served as chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, dealing with issues related to drug policy, crime prevention, and civil liberties, and led creation of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act and Violence Against Women Act. He chaired the Judiciary Committee during the contentious U.S. Supreme Court nominations of Robert Bork and Clarence Thomas.
Biden unsuccessfully sought the Democratic presidential nomination in 1988 and 2008, both times dropping out early in the race. Barack Obama selected Biden to be the Democratic Party nominee for Vice President in the 2008 U.S. presidential election. Biden is the first Roman Catholic and the first Delawarean to become Vice President of the United States. As Vice President, Biden has been heavily involved in Obama’s decision-making process and held the oversight role for infrastructure spending from the Obama stimulus package aimed at counteracting the late-2000s recession. His ability to negotiate with Congressional Republicans played a key role in bringing about the bipartisan deals that resulted in the Tax Relief, Unemployment Insurance Re-authorization, and Job Creation Act of 2010 that resolved a taxation deadlock and the Budget Control Act of 2011 that resolved the United States debt ceiling crisis.
Oscar Grant was fatally shot by BART police officer Johannes Mehserle in Oakland, California, United States, in the early morning hours of New Year’s Day 2009. Responding to reports of a fight on a crowded Bay Area Rapid Transit train returning from San Francisco, BART Police officers detained Oscar Grant and several other passengers on the platform at the Fruitvale BART Station. Officer Johannes Mehserle and another officer were restraining Grant, who was prostrate and allegedly resisting arrest Officer Mehserle stood and, according to witnesses, said “Get back, I’m gonna tase him.” Then Mehserle drew his gun and shot Grant once in the back; Mehserle appeared stunned, put his hands to his head and exclaimed “Oh my God!” During his court testimony, Mehserle said that Grant then exclaimed, “You shot me!” Grant turned out to be unarmed; he was pronounced dead the next morning at Highland Hospital in Oakland.
The events were captured on multiple digital video and cell phone cameras. The footage was disseminated to media outlets and to various websites, where it was watched millions of times. The following days saw both peaceful and violent protests.
The shooting has been variously labeled an involuntary manslaughter and a summary execution. On January 13, Alameda County prosecutors charged Mehserle with murder for the shooting. He resigned his position and pleaded not guilty. The trial began on June 10, 2010. Michael Rains, Mehserle’s criminal defense attorney, argued that Mehserle mistakenly shot Grant with his pistol, intending to use his Taser when he saw Grant reaching for his waistband. Pretrial filings argue that his client did not commit first-degree murder and asked a Los Angeles judge to instruct the jury to limit its deliberations to either second-degree murder or acquittal.
Oakland civil rights attorney John Burris filed a $25 million wrongful death claim against BART on behalf of Grant’s family.
On July 8, 2010, the jury returned its verdict: Mehserle was found guilty of involuntary manslaughter and not guilty of second degree murder and voluntary manslaughter. Initial protests against the ruling were peacefully organized; looting, arson, destruction of property, and small riots broke out after dark. Nearly 80 people were eventually arrested.
On Friday, July 9, 2010, the U.S. Justice Department opened a civil rights case against Mehserle; the federal government can prosecute him independently for the same act under the separate sovereigns exception to double jeopardy. The Department of Justice will be working with the U.S. Attorney’s office in San Francisco and the FBI.
On November 5, 2010 Mehserle was sentenced to two years, minus time served. He served his time in the Los Angeles County Jail, occupying a private cell away from other prisoners. He was released on June 13, 2011 and is now on parole.
*For more information on this subject and to donate to a worthwhile cause please visit*